What does the Quran say about positive thinking?
Verses in the Quran that relate to positive thinking include:
- So remember Me; I will remember you (Quran 2:152)
- If you are grateful, I will surely increase you in favor. (Quran 14:7)
- Allah will reward the grateful. (Quran 3:144)
- And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.’ Quran [4:147]
Allah says ‘And if you should count the favor of Allah, you could not enumerate them’ is one of many Quran verses that relate to positive thinking.
‘…And if you should count the favour of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.’
The blessings that Allah has bestowed on a person cannot even be counted. There are some blessings we can see and we know, while there are other blessings that we are not even aware of or can imagine.
One of the most important characteristics of a believer is that he is thankful. In fact one of the divine wisdoms of our existence is to be thankful to Allah.
The Opposite of gratefulness is disbelief
One important thing to note is that the opposite of being grateful is actually to reject Allah by being ungrateful. Why would this be so? Because the greatest ingratitude is to deny the existence and the worship of Allah and this is kufr. Kufr also translates into ingratitude.
‘So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.’
Hasan al Basri (RA) comments on this verse that ‘Allah says, Remember Me regarding what I have commanded you and I will remember you regarding what I have compelled Myself to do for your benefit (i.e. His rewards and forgiveness).’
Allah commands that He be thanked and appreciated and promises even more rewards for thanking Him.
Purpose of blessings is to thank Allah
One of the purposes of being provided with blessings is so we thank Allah. When we are blessed and continue to be blessed, we are actually in a trial in order to see whether we are thankful for those blessings.
‘And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.’
How can you show gratitude?
The great early scholars say that true gratitude encompasses a number of factors within it. These are:
- To humble yourself – in front of the one who has given you those blessings. This is a natural emotion when somebody gives you something or does you a favour and you acknowledge it. So what about the One who has given you every blessing and favour that you have? How much should we humble ourselves to Him? In fact, He’s the One who has given those people favours who then help you in some way. This humbleness naturally necessitates there is no arrogance because these are opposite characteristics.
- You appreciate and therefore love – the one who has bestowed these favours upon you. Again, this should come naturally as when you are shown love; your heart naturally inclines to the one who has shown that love. So, how about the One who has shown that love to you without measure?
- Feel the blessing that has been bestowed on you. You should think about and appreciate every blessing that you have, recollecting them and being thankful for each one.
- Show gratitude – To also act in a manner that is pleasing to the One who has given the blessings to you, as opposed to carrying out acts which displease Him, as that is a sign of arrogance and rejection of the favours. How can you be thankful for a favour, like a limb, when you then commit sin with that same thing?
- Mention the blessings that you have been given bearing in mind the right intention and to the right audience. Allah is Praise worthy and likes to be praised in the right context. To the wrong audience though, can bring about jealousy.
Demonstrate your gratefulness and gratitude
‘”Work, O family of David, in gratitude.” And few of My servants are grateful.’
According to Ibn Kathir, this verse means ‘Work with thanks for the blessings that We have bestowed upon you in this world and the Hereafter. This indicates that thanks may be expressed by actions as much as by words and intentions.’
How do you give thanks by your actions? Your acts of worship count as giving thanks so the Prayer is thanks, fasting is thanks and in fact every good deed you do for the sake of Allah is thanks. Praising Allah is among the best way of thanking Him.
Following the above verse, it is reported that Dawud (David AS) then said, ‘O Lord! How can I thank you when thanks itself is a blessing from You?’
Allah said: ‘Now you have truly given thanks to Me, for you have realized that it is a blessing from Me.’
What are the benefits for the thankful?
- It makes you happier. This has been tested scientifically too. In psychology research, gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. It helps people feel more positive emotions and improve their health.
- You get the pleasure of Allah. ‘…but Allah will reward the grateful.’ Quran [3:144]
- Allah will remove the punishment from you. ‘What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.’ Quran [4:147]
Law of Attraction when grateful
Allah gives you more if you show gratitude.
‘If you give thanks, I will give you more.’
Even if you look at the internet today, you will see many people, Muslims and non-Muslims talking about the Law of Attraction and they say ‘like attracts like’, where if you are truly thankful for the things you have, even the little things, it will attract more positive blessings coming your way.
Quran verses about gratefulness and gratitude
‘…And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Generous.’
‘O you who have believed, eat from the good things which We have provided for you and be grateful to Allah if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.’
‘And We have certainly established you upon the earth and made for you therein ways of livelihood. Little are you grateful.’ Quran [7:10]
‘Then I (Satan) will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You Allah].’
‘Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.’ Quran [76:3]
The Hungry Prophet (narrated in Sahih Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) went out (of his house) one day or one night, and there he found Abu Bakr and Umar (RA) also. He said: What has brought you out of your houses at this hour? They said: Allah’s Messenger, it is hunger.
Thereupon he said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, what has brought you out has brought me out too; get up. They got up along with him and (all of them) came to the house of an Ansari, but he was not at home. When his wife saw him she said: Most welcome, and Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said to her: Where is so and so? She said: He has gone to get some fresh water for us.
When the Ansari came and he saw Allah’s Messenger (SAW) and his two Companions, he said: Praise be to Allah, no one has more honourable guests today than I. He then went out and brought them a bunch of ripe dates, dry dates and fresh dates, and said: Eat some of them. He then took hold of his long knife (for slaughtering a goat or a sheep). Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said to him: Beware of killing a milk animal.
He slaughtered a sheep for them and after they had eaten of it and of the bunch and drank, and when they had taken their fill and had been fully satisfied with the drink, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said to Abu Bakr and Umar: ‘By Him in Whose Hand is my life, you will certainly be questioned about this bounty on the Day of judgment. Hunger brought you out of your house, and then you did not return until this bounty came to you.’
What does this teach us?
This hadith shows the hunger experienced by the Prophet (SAW) and his companions and even at this low point, the companions are being reminded of the blessings of Allah that will need to be accounted for on the Day of Judgement. The Prophet himself was already showing gratitude by not complaining of his situation and still being a grateful servant of Allah as it was occurring.
Aisha (RA), the mother of the believers, says the Prophet (SAW) never found fault with any food that was served to him, or any gift that was given to him whether in Makkah or Madinah. This was gratitude.
Jabir (RA) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever is not grateful for small things will not be grateful for large things. Whoever does not thank people has not thanked Allah Almighty.” (al-Firdaws lil-Daylamī)